This college football season is one marked by big names and accomplished players. Never before have two Heisman Trophy winners played in the same season. But it will happen this fall with Florida quarterback Tim Tebow (2007 winner) and Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford (2008 winner). Add into that group a guy with probably the coolest name for a quarterback, Colt McCoy (Texas), and you have all three Heisman finalists from last season.
The Heisman race will likely begin and end with that trio, while the national championship picture starts with their teams. Defending national champ Florida is the preseason No. 1 team in both major polls, followed by McCoy’s Longhorns and Bradford’s Sooners. Traditional powers USC, Ohio State and Virginia Tech all are consensus top-10 teams, as is Alabama – a much-improved team under second-year coach Nick Saban.
There is more to this season than the favorites, though. A bunch of rising stars could take the spotlight away from Heisman finalists of last season. Here are 10 players who you’ll get to know this season:
1. Matt Barkley, QB, USC. The true freshman surprisingly won the starting job that previously was held by first-round picks Mark Sanchez, Matt Leinart and Carson Palmer.
2. Julio Jones, WR, Alabama. The sophomore wide out is a big target, who had a fantastic true freshman season for the Tide.
3. Tayler Potts, QB, Texas Tech. It hasn’t mattered who has played quarterback for Texas Tech this decade – everyone has thrown for huge numbers under coach Mike Leach.
4. Sean Spence, LB, Miami. The Hurricanes have produced standout linebackers such as Ray Lewis, Dan Morgan, Jonathan Vilma and Jon Beason. Spence, a sophomore, may get drafted higher than any of them.
5. Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame. The Cretin-Derham Hall graduate was great as a freshman and could turn into a major playmaker if quarterback Jimmy Clausen is more consistent.
6. Bryce Brown, RB, Tennessee. The true freshman from Wichita, Kan., was the No. 1 recruit in the country and the most valuable player at the Army All-American Game.
7. Terrelle Pryor, QB, Ohio State. The Pennsylvania native played as a true freshman and some moments that were so good, he looked like Vince Young.
8. Noel Devine, RB, West Virginia. Despite being 5-foot-8, Devine may be one of the hardest players to tackle in all of college football because of his ridiculous moves and surprising strength.
9. Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma. This massive tackle keeps Bradford from getting hit and may be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 NFL draft.
10. Arrelious Benn, WR, Illinois. The junior from Washington, D.C., is the best wide out in the Big Ten and is a candidate for the Fred Biletnikoff Award for the top receiver in the country.